Shining Stars shoot to top of the world

AUSTRALIA'S elite female cricketers are basking in the proof they are the best in the world after sealing their second major international tournament in four months.

The Southern Stars' 114-run victory over the West Indies in the World Cup final on Sunday night in Mumbai allowed them to match England's feat from 2009-10, when it held both the 50-over and 20-over tournaments. The Stars have won the 50-over World Cup six times.

Australia chose to bat first and produced an imposing total of 7-259. Jess Cameron (75 off 76 balls) and Rachael Haynes (52 off 74) set the platform for the innings, which was finished deftly by captain Jodie Fields (36 not out off 38) and all-rounder Ellyse Perry (25 not out off 22).

Cameron's innings gained her the player of the match, which she also won in October's World Twenty20 win.

Perry, who needed a painkilling injection in an ankle to play, snared the momentum from the West Indies with an exceptional start to her bowling spell, at one stage having 3-2 in her third over.

A partnership between captain Merissa Aguilleira and big-hitting Deandra Dottin proved threatening until both were bowled by revered off-spinner Lisa Sthalekar, who later announced her retirement.

While England had high expectations of retaining the World Cup, all-rounder Sthalekar reckoned the Stars, winner of the past two World Twenty20 titles, had done enough to signify their superiority.

''A goal of ours is to be the No. 1 in both formats. I think our record speaks for itself,'' she said. ''We go over to England [in August] to play for the Ashes and Twenty20s and they'll be quite upset by this loss. We've got to go out and prove ourselves over there.''

Coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick echoed Sthalekar's thoughts.

''Well we are in both formats, we've got the No. 1 ranking. That's fantastic,'' she said. ''We're the No 1 team in the world, so these girls deserve to celebrate hard and be really pleased with what they've done.

''It wasn't without its drama and it wasn't without its speed humps but the girls showed good character, belief in their skills - and we got there.''

Dual cricket and soccer international Perry cited two matches earlier in the tournament as evidence of why Australia was returning home with the trophy.

''What was most pleasing and indicative of the character of our side throughout the whole tournament was just how hard we had to fight for some of our wins. It probably goes back to our first-round win against Pakistan, and then the Super Sixes win against England,'' she said.

''To stand up in two really big tournaments at really crucial times was a real testament to the culture within our side and also the attitude that we have.

''But it'd be very naive to think England aren't a class side. I think we're all going to be looking forward to the Ashes mid-year.''

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the World Cup victory ''tops off a magnificent six months''. ''To win back-to-back world championships in both formats is a remarkable accomplishment,'' he said.

This story Shining Stars shoot to top of the world first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.